Dennis Holmes’ deputy blog – Jan 2015
Firstly can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy New Year, it was certainly an eventful 2014 and I’m thinking that 2015 with all the big national and local activity, could be even more tumultuous! As our Christmas festivities head off over the retreating horizon of last year it’s time to turn our attention and energies to the challenge of the new year.
2015 will see the arrival of a new Director for adult social care. Cath Roff, who is currently the Director of Adult Social Services in the City of Derby, has been appointed to the role. I’m sure you’d want to join with me in offering her our full support as she takes up this extremely challenging but exciting opportunity. Cath will be joining us later in the springtime with an anticipated start date of the 13th April. Perhaps a little later than that, we also welcome Shona Macfarlane, who will start to take up responsibility for access and care and provider services.
We have recently said farewell to Paul Broughton who retired immediately before Christmas having served his second ‘term’ with adult social care. It’s hard to imagine a more conscientious and dedicated public servant than Paul and I’ll personally miss him very much as a trusted colleague.
It’s also fair to say that we were shocked by the news of Steve Hume’s illness shortly before the holidays, I’m really pleased to be able to report that Steve seems to be making a steady recovery and he sends his best regards for the many cards and messages of support that he has received from colleagues throughout the council and beyond over the past few weeks.
During this time I also had the unenviable responsibility of writing to large numbers of staff to advise them of the intention to seek permission to consult to reconfigure further areas of our services. I absolutely recognise how unwelcome this news is; however, I also recognise the very significant service challenges that lie ahead in terms of offering more people truly personalised care and support and the challenges associated with significant reductions in council funding for the foreseeable future. So, although these are really tough things to have to do, in the circumstances they remain the right things to do for adult social care.
During the run up to the holidays and into the first few weeks of this year, we are putting together our very detailed plans to deliver the budget in the 15/16 financial year. In the past number of years, we in adult social care have made herculean efforts to manage within the resources allocated to us and, with very few exceptions, have succeeded. I am hopeful that this year will be no different and I am pleased to say that the significant overspend we were predicting earlier in the year is being slowly but purposefully eroded. The further we can take the projected overspend down then the better our position will be going into next year.
The detailed budget proposals and settlement for 15/16 will be put to full Council in February as usual, I’d urge people to look on the council website for the budget papers (published 3rd Feb).
I’ve blogged previously about change and how we manage it. This next calendar year will see significant changes in the senior leadership of adult social care under a new leadership regime. In May the local and general elections may well signal the start of new policy directions and frameworks shaping the future of health and care services and besides that we will have begun to implement the Care Act. All that and a new client information system to install!!! All this will be done in the context of extremely difficult financial circumstances and rising demand for social and health care. In these circumstances it remains really important that we look out for and after each other, live the values of the council and continue to put people at the centre of everything we do.
Finally, my personal thanks to everyone for supporting me during my time as Interim Director, I’ve been very gratified by the many messages of personal support over the past few weeks. Over the next few weeks I intend to continue to make sure the Directorate keeps progressing and developing before handing on to the new Director. In the meantime there will be more deputy blogs to look forward to … and please spare a thought for colleagues in children’s services who are, as I write, beginning to undergo an inspection of their work by Ofsted that will last for the next four weeks.
Interim Director, Leeds Adult Social Care Services